Pioneer CS-T8 vintage speakers

Has anyone heard these speakers?

They were issued in 1974 and at that time it was one of their top models. Apparently one step down from the CS-3000A and before the introduction of the Exclusive models. In fact, I've seen models identical to the CS-T8 with an Exclusive badge. The drivers were possibly designed by TAD, who were also responsible for the drivers in the big Exclusive horn systems. Judging by the size and cosmetics, the CS-T8 look like they were aimed to compete with the Yamaha NS-1000.

When I was a kid in the 70's I drooled over brochures (what, you too?) like the Pioneer, which had fancy pictures of the Exclusive M3 and C3 amplifiers, the CS-3000A and these CS-T8 speakers, all in gorgeous rosewood enclosures. It's fun to be able to acquire these pieces after so many years, even if time has taken its toll. It certainly did on my hearing and probably on the performance of these units as well. But the nostalgia 'drool' factor nicely compensates for this. I now have the opportunity to get a pair of the CS-T8, which to me is an exciting prospect.

So again, anyone heard these and would like to comment?

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I took delivery of these speakers a few days ago and since nobody seems to be familiar with them, I figured it might be helpful to add some comments myself. Just in case someone develops an interest in the future and wishes to find some user info.

This pair survived their 45 years of existence pretty well, apart from the inevitable cosmetic blemishes to the cabinet. No surprise there. What does surprise is the sound. These things are as open and transparent as any modern high end speaker, combined with a very neutral tonal character. They’re nothing like the highly coloured JBL’s of the day, nor do they suffer from the closed in ’warmth’ of many BBC derived British speakers.

Sonically they are somewhat similar to the Acoustic Research AR10/11 speakers I have always enjoyed. They’re very easy on the ear on all types of music like the AR’s, but with a more transparent and open high register. It’s a mystery why Japanese speakers of this level were not more popular in the West during a time when their electronics sold in huge numbers. Aparently they didn't even bother to market them seriously and the top Pioneer speaker models - like the Exclusive horn systems - were kept for the home market. The ones that did get officially exported - like the CS-3000a and this CS-T8 - were very expensive. As I remember the Yamaha NS-1000 were about the only serious Japanese speakers that did sell in fairly large numbers outside of Japan. They were considered serious competition to all the usual suspects from the US and UK and with good reason. I remember them well and certainly liked them, although they always seemed to be rather ’hot’ in the treble. The later Pioneer S-955 and S-933 - also with beryllium drivers - can also be a little too much in the wrong environment and require very careful system matching. The CS-T8 are more forgiving in this respect.

I would say the CS-T8 are highly recommended for anyone interested in vintage Japanese speakers, but my advise is to use them with some caution. The drivers are unobtanium and when they die you’re out of luck......

You are right these speakers were TOTL from 1973~1976 but they were not designed by TAD. I have two pairs and I prefer them over my NS1000. I first got hold of a pair in the late seventies and believe me they were impressive build wise compared to the HPM series. The achilles heel of these speakers are the midrange which has an edge wound flat wire voice coil which  tends to snap where it is attached to the duralumin dome.
Thanks for your comment. I’ve been listening to these speakers for almost two weeks now and am constantly amazed at what they can do. For now they simply sit on a pile of books next to my Magnepan 20.7 (an odd couple visually) and they throw such a huge soundstage that I sometimes mistake them for the Maggies.

I’m sure it will only get better once I’ve positioned them correctly. They are rather lean in the bass now, so I assume they need to be placed closer to the backwall. After all, they were marketed as ’bookshelf’ speakers. Would you agree?

The suggestion that these drivers might have been designed by Pioneer’s TAD division was pure speculation on my part, as I remember reading that TAD were involved in the beryllium drivers of the Pioneer S 955 (which I also own). So it didn’t seem a big leap of thought to consider the possibility that the mid and high drivers of the CS-T8 might have come from the same drawing board. Either way, they sound terrific.